The Canadian government has asked Pope Francis to officially apologize for the Catholic Church’s earlier role in the Canadian civil system. The appeal, reported by British newspaper “The Guardian” (Wednesday evening, online), comes days after the remains of 215 children were found on the grounds of a former home. The church opened a boarding school in 1890 near the small town of Kamloops in the west of the country. The sons and daughters of indigenous families were mostly forced to live in the facility to introduce them to “Christian civilization”.
Kamloops Boarding School was one of 139 reeducation homes in Canada, most of which were church-run. The boarding school was taken over by the state authorities in 1969 and it was closed in 1978. It is estimated that more than 150,000 Indigenous children ended up in such facilities between 1830 and 1998. There they were often not allowed to speak their mother tongue, and many of them were abused or abused.
Government wants to cooperate in the search of graves
Reportedly, Justin Trudeau’s government once again pledged to support efforts to find more unmarked graves in former residential schools. The victims in Kamloops were traced last week through on-the-ground radar investigations.
Papal amnesty is already one of the 94 recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the past to tackle injustice in homes. During a visit to the Vatican in 2017, the prime minister asked Pope Francis to consider such a gesture. The Canadian Conference of Bishops announced in 2018 that the Pope could not personally apologize for what was happening in homes, although he condemned injustices against indigenous peoples around the world.
“I find it shameful that this has not happened so far,” the Guardian quoted Canada’s Indigenous Services minister, Mark Miller, as saying. He said the responsibility rests directly on the shoulders of the Catholic Bishops of Canada. Indigenous Relations Minister Caroline Bennett said the pope’s apology could help the survivors recover. “You want to hear the Pope apologizing.” (kna)